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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M claims first SEC win in return of Jalen Jones

Jalen Jones shined in his first game back from an ankle injury by adding 16 points helping A&M defeat Mississippi State 74-70 to register their first SEC win of the season Tuesday night in Reed Arena.
Head coach Billy Kennedy said his team struggled and was frustrated in the first half, but kept their composure in the second.
“[Mississippi State] played really well in the first half and I thought our team played like we had a bear on our back,” Kennedy said. “I told them, there are going to be games where teams are going to play well, whether we’re on the road or at home. We can’t be frustrated when we’re not up 10 or 15. This is the SEC and there aren’t going to be a lot of easy games.”
Both A&M (10-5, 1-2 SEC) and Mississippi State (7-9, 0-3 SEC) came out shooting strong in the first half. The Aggies led for most of the starting 20 minutes and held their biggest advantage of the half at seven with 8:02 left.
The Bulldogs barked back by shooting 5-for-10 from three-point range in the first and took their first lead of the game at 28-27 thanks to a Fred Thomas three-pointer as time expired.
The Aggies came out of the gates strong in the second half, going on a 10-2 run to lead the Bulldogs 37-30 at the 15:16 mark. At two different points in the second half, A&M had a 10-point lead over the Bulldogs. A&M had multiple chances to put the game away, but Mississippi State kept it close to the very end.
Despite the fouling effort Mississippi State put forth starting at the two-minute mark, the Aggies had a 64-54 lead with 56 seconds remaining. In the closing minute, the Bulldogs made a late push with back-to-back three-pointers from guard I.J. Ready on consecutive possessions to put pressure on the Aggies.
A&M continued to struggle at the free throw line, ending 28-of-44. In the last couple minutes, the Aggies converted 11-of-14 free throws to put the game away.
The Aggies had four players score in double figures— Kourtney Roberson with 10, Jalen Jones with 16, Danuel House with 19 and Alex Caruso with 21. Alex Caruso— who is the SEC assist leader— also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists.
“It feels great,” Caruso said. “Even if it wasn’t the prettiest or most dominating win, it feels great. A win’s a win. Every game counts the same; everyone counts as one win or one loss. Ultimately, every home game is very important. The road games, you’re going to have days where you can’t make shots, but at home you need to win as many games as you can.”
Mississippi State also had four players score in double figures— Fred Thomas with 12, Roquez Johnson with 13, Travis Daniels with 14 and I.J. Ready with 18.
Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray had only good things to say about his point guard, I.J. Ready.
“I thought he was really good,” Ray said. “I think I.J. Ready will always be your quintessential point guard. What he does is he doesn’t put himself in harms way at that point guard position because he doesn’t want to turn the ball over. He knows the most important stat for a point guard is the assist-to-turnover ratio.”
The next time the Aggies hit the hardwood will be against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, LA at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

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